The Helium Stick Challenge is a simple, powerful way to reinforce the value of teamwork. And to provide a jumping off point to discuss issues of teamwork and leadership.
The “stick” is actually a series of corded tent poles that fold up so you can easily store and transport it. When extended fully, it’s 10 feet long.
Simply have the group line up facing each other with index fingers extended. Place the stick on their fingers and ask them to lower it to the ground. They will be amazed by how difficult this actually is. The stick seems to want to move upward.
The secret to the Helium Stick Challenge is that the stick does not contain helium. The collective upwards pressure created by everyone’s fingers tends to be greater than the weight of the stick. As a result, the more a group tries, the more the stick tends to “float” upwards.
After much laughter, your group will lower the Helium Stick to the ground and be ready for a teambuilding discussion. Some important processing questions are:
- How well did the group cope with this challenge? Did some people give up while others stuck with it?
- What skills did it take to be successful as a group?
- What creative solutions were suggested and how were they received?
- What would an outside observer have seen as the strengths and weaknesses of the group?